Friday, August 19, 2022


My brother and I put a yellow ribbon around the tree in front of our house during the late 1970s. We were children, but we knew about the 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran. One of them was Kevin Hermenning. He was a 20-year-old Marine who had just been transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Shortly after he arrived, radicals stormed the gates and took the Americans hostage for 444 days. 

Within moments of Ronald Reagan taking the oath of office as the 40th President of the United States of America, Iran released the hostages. There was a new sheriff in town, and they were not going to test the Commander-in-Chief. Peace through strength works. 

Mr. Reagan was once asked what his strategy was when negotiating with the leaders of the old Soviet Union. His response was classic Reagan: “We win, they lose.”  Unlike past officials, he did not want to contain Communism. He wanted to transform it. 

Mr. Reagan’s eyes were opened to the problems with Communism during his tenure as the leader of the Screen Actors Guild. He once said, “How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”

His tough stand against the Soviet Union led to their collapse and to the fall of Communism throughout Europe. He won the Cold War without firing a shot. 

Sadly, America is heading in the opposite direction today. The disastrous withdrawal of troops a year ago was a global disgrace that let down our military, American citizens living in the region, and allies of the United States—many of whom had worked as interpreters for our military. 

Without a doubt, the weakness shown by the President in Afghanistan last year opened the door to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invading Ukraine in February. While peace through strength is true, so it is that weakness opens the door to evil. 

If not for the remarkable resistance by the people of Ukraine, it might very well be that the Chinese Communist Party would already be waiving the flag in Taiwan. Chinese leaders are already making some of the same claims about common language and ancestry that Mr. Putin attempts to make to try and justify his aggression in Europe. 

Mr. Putin and President of the People’s Republic of China and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping have been talking about these moves for years. The first move came into the Crimean Peninsula during the Obama administration. Global aggression largely stopped during the Trump years. As was true during the Reagan years, our adversaries did not want to test our limits. Now, they see a weak and impotent president. 

Sadly, we lost 13 American service members because of Joe Biden’s weakness. For all of his talk about bloodshed, the U.S. had not lost a member of the U.S. military in Afghanistan in 18 months prior to that attack on our heroes. 

Eleven Marines, one Navy corpsman and one soldier were “killed as the result of an enemy attack while supporting non-combatant evacuation operations,” according to a Saturday press release from the Department of Defense, which released the names of the U.S. troops. We must never forget them: 

Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts

Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California

Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah

Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California

Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska

Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana

Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas

Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri

Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming

Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California

Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California

Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee

Years ago, I visited troops in this country. We stayed at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and we toured Bagram Airfield. 

Mr. Biden ordered a withdrawal from Afghanistan that was a disgrace. It dishonored those men and women who fought and particularly those who died in the past. It led to the Taliban capturing billions of dollars worth of U.S. military equipment. According to the Pentagon, $7 billion worth of equipment was left behind in Afghanistan. Worst of all, it led to the senseless deaths of 13 American heroes. 

We owe it to their families to ensure that nothing like this happens again. We shouldn’t have to put up any more ribbons.
In America, there should be no greater friend and no worse enemy. It should not be the other way around—not now, not ever. 

• Scott Walker is the president of Young America’s Foundation and served as the 45th governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019. 

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